A Pain in the Neck

“You’re looking very well,” says Suzy Cleator, shaking my hand. She ushers me into her swanky designer consulting room at LOC.*

Suzy is also looking very well and I tell her so. After a bit of complimentary chitchat about the length and colour of my hair Suzy looks at my blood test results. “These are fine. How are you feeling? How are you getting on with the Tamoxifen?”

“I’m not having any side effects. Occasional hot flushes. That’s about it but I’m still very tired a lot of the time. And I’m worried about my weight.”

“How much do you weigh?”

“58.4 kilos…”

“Well that’s probably ok.”

“… but when I was having the chemo I was 67 kilos.”

It’s true. I had never been so solid in my life before that time. The steroids that they gave me made me ravenous. When I wasn’t engulfed by nausea I was ramming down three course meals interspersed with éclairs and bars of Green & Black’s chocolate.

Suzy speaks words of reassurance: “Weight loss is not generally associated with breast cancer. But with all the trauma and anxiety you’ve been through it’s not surprising that you’ve lost weight. And the anti-depressants you’re taking can make you feel tired. “Let me have a look at you.”

I strip off behind the screen.

“Mmm. You are very thin.” I can’t help thinking that if Suzy were Mr H these words would be accompanied by a poke in the ribs. “Is there anything else worrying you? Are your stools pale?”

“No!” I exclaim. “But I am having a lot of pain in my upper back and neck.”

“Does the pain come and go?”

“It gets better and worse but it is always there.”

“I will get your thyroid function tested. I’d like you to see a nutritionist too. We have an excellent one here at the clinic. And I think maybe you should have another bone scan.”

My eyes goggle. There is no getting away from it. My cousin Gaby died from cancer. It began with pains in her back. I often lie awake at night trying to relax my neck and shoulders and at the same time trying tell myself that it’s just tension. Too much time spent at the keyboard. I’ve had a muscle removed from my back haven’t I? That’s bound to cause other muscles to compensate. Isn’t it? I don’t want to make a pain in the neck into another drama.

“Just to be on the safe side,” adds Suzy. “I’m going to be away for a couple of weeks. You could have the scan but you’d have to wait until I get back for the results.”

“No,” I reply, “Let’s do it all on the same day.”

“OK. So we’ll book you in for the bone scan on the 17th.”

And the waiting begins.
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